Theodore Chaikin "Ted" Sorensen (May 8, 1928 – October 31, 2010) was an
American presidential advisor, lawyer and writer, best known as
President John F. Kennedy’s special counsel, adviser and legendary
speechwriter. President Kennedy once called him his "intellectual blood
for Wikipedia article).
A nation without credibility and moral authority cannot lead, because no
one will follow.
A speech is made great, not from the words used, but from the ideas
conveyed. If the ideas, principles and values and substance of the
speech are great, then it's going to be a great speech, even if the
words are pedestrian. The words can be soaring, beautiful and eloquent
but if the ideas are flat, empty or mean, it's not a great speech.
Above all, we shall wage no more unilateral, ill-planned,
ill-considered, and ill-prepared invasions of foreign countries that
pose no actual threat to our security.
Consistently wise decisions can only be made by those whose wisdom is
For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie- deliberate,
contrived, and dishonest- but the myth- persistent, persuasive, and
unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We
subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy
the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.
I believe in an America in which the fruits of productivity and
prosperity are shared by all, by workers as well as owners, by those at
the bottom as well as those at the top; an America in which the
sacrifices required by national security are shared by all, by
profiteers in the back offices as well as volunteers on the front lines.
I still believe that the mildest and most obscure of Americans can be
rescued from oblivion by good luck, sudden changes in fortune, sudden
encounters with heroes. I believe it because I lived it.
I think Democrats made a mistake running away from liberalism.
Liberalism- Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John and Robert Kennedy-
that's what the Democratic party ought to reach for.
I wasn't involved in politics at all- until about the age of four.
I'm simply saying that there are advantages in sending a skilled
diplomat who can always say, 'I'll get back to you on that, Mr.
If we can but tear the blindfold of self-deception from our eyes and
loosen the gag of self-denial from our voices, we can restore our
country to greatness.
Military strength in reserve is better than military strength being
reigned upon the other side including all of its innocent civilians.
Now people all across America are starting to believe in America again.
We are coming back, back to the heights of greatness, back to America's
proud role as a temple of justice and a champion of peace.
Number one, that it is smart to communicate and negotiate with your
enemy instead of just waging war with bombs and weapons of mass
Our surest protection against assault from abroad has been not all our
guards, gates and guns, or even our two oceans, but our essential
goodness as a people. Our richest asset has been not our material wealth
but our values.
Presidential candidates don't chew gum.
Public opinion rarely considers the needs of the next generation or the
history of the last. It is frequently hampered by myths and
misinformation, by stereotypes and shibboleths, and by an innate
resistance to innovation.
The ambassador was never present, but his presence was never absent.
The American people still believe in peace, human rights and justice;
they are still a generous, fair-minded, open-minded people.
The damage done to this country by its own misconduct in the last few
months and years, to its very heart and soul, is far greater and longer
lasting than any damage that any terrorist could possibly inflict upon
The good news, to relieve all this gloom, is that a democracy is
inherently self-correcting. Here, the people are sovereign. Inept
political leaders can be replaced. Foolish policies can be changed.
Disastrous mistakes can be reversed.
Two roads diverged in the Old Senate Office Building and I took the one
less recommended, and that has made all the difference. The truth is
more prosaic: I wanted a good job.
We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And
we are all mortal. (John F. Kennedy speech at American University,
delivered June 10, 1963)
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade
and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are
hard. (John F. Kennedy speech at Rice University delivered September 12,
We have convinced over one billion members of the Islamic faith that we
are prejudiced against their religion, that we would deny them freedom
of religion, that we want suppress their culture and invade their
We have treated our most serious adversaries, such as Iran and North
Korea, in the most juvenile manner- by giving them the silent treatment.
In so doing, we have weakened, not strengthened, our bargaining position
and our leadership.
We must face the fact that the United States is neither omnipotent nor
omniscient- that we are only six percent of the world's population- that
we cannot impose our will upon the other 94 percent of mankind- that we
cannot right every wrong or reverse each adversity- and that therefore
there cannot be an American solution to every world problem. (John F.
Kennedy speech at the University of Washington, delivered November 16,
We need not renounce the use of conventional force. We will be ready to
repel any clear and present danger that poses a genuine threat to our
national security and survival.
We remain essentially a nation under siege.
We shall listen, not lecture; learn, not threaten. We will enhance our
safety by earning the respect of others and showing respect for them. In
short, our foreign policy will rest on the traditional American values
of restraint and empathy, not on military might.
We will always apply the same principles of collective security, prudent
caution, and superior weaponry that enabled us to peacefully prevail in
the long cold war against the Soviet Union.
We will be safer from terrorist attack only when we have earned the
respect of all other nations instead of their fear, respect for our
values and not merely our weapons.
When, in the late 1940s, we faced a global Cold War against another
system of ideological fanatics certain that their authoritarian values
would eventually rule the world, we prevailed in time. We prevailed
because we exercised patience as well as vigilance, self-restraint as
well as self-defense, and reached out to moderates and modernists, to
democrats and dissidents, within that closed system.
With the help of dedicated Americans from our party, every party, and no
party at all, I intend to mount that stairway to preach peace for our
nation and world.
Quotes of the day,
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